Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel AgedNarwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged

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768 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 768
Reviews: 96
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 9.63%
Wants: 154
Gots: 446 | FT: 69
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  12.90% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
This deliciously dark treat is our bold Narwhal Imperial Stout aged in oak Kentucky bourbon barrels. Black as midnight, this intense stout is incredibly complex with notes of dark chocolate, rich roasted grains, and espresso seamlessly blended with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut with a slight touch of honey from aging in the oak spirit casks. Nearly as rare as its nautical namesake, try it out while you can because, like the creature itself, it will disappear into the blackness soon and leave nary a trace behind.

Additional Info:
Narwhal was aged for 8 months in fresh bourbon barrels (a combination of Willett single barrel, Heaven Hill and various Beam brands).

ABV: 12.9
IBU’s: 62
Bittering Hops: Challenger
Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Carafa III, Roasted Barley

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-11-2013)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 768 | Reviews: 96 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by jaasen64:
Photo of jaasen64
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Meadhall for the pre-EBF Throwdown. ~10oz served in a Sierra Nevada snifter.

A- Jet black with about a quarter finger of creamy mocha head that has decent retention but recedes slowly leaving some spotty foamy lacing . Decent carbonation for a BA stout with nice consistency.

S- Milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, a bit of vanilla balanced nicely with sweet bourbon. Bourbon isn't too overpowering lending a nice sweet aroma and making it's BA presence known while still letting some of the base beer shine through.

T- Milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, toasted marshmellows, finishing with a smooth sweet bourbon taste and a light oak presence. The integration of the bourbon presence is what really makes this beer spectacular. It provides a nice complexity while still retaining the base beer characteristics. It also adds a nice sweetness without becoming too boozey, which is what I hate about a lot of high abv bourbon barrel-aged stouts.

M- Definitely a sipper, but very drinkable and incredibly smooth for being almost 13%- almost to the point where it's dangerous. Nice level carbonation and overall almost perfect feel for a BA stout.

O- I wasn't sure what to expect going into this beer having never had regular Narwhal and not being a huge fan of the few SN barrel-aged beers I've had. This beer was a pleasant surprise though, was definitely our favorite at the throwdown, and easily stands up against some of the best BA stouts I've had. I really hope they bottle this and I definitely would like to revisit it in the future. I might even go as far as saying I liked it slightly better then bourbon county.

More User Reviews:
Photo of ThickNStout
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Corked and caged 750mL bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 22.99. Bottled 10/14/14. Served in a Barrel and Barley teku.

Pours midnight black with a two and a half finger cap of dense, pale tan head. The froth slowly settles to a thin ring that leaves some nice patches of lace.

Sweet, rich, inviting smells of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, burnt oak, coffee and caramel with a hint of the fairly formidable alcohol in the background. Quite nice.

Flavors are bold, rich and ocassionally bordering on hot. Dark chocolate fudge, bourbon, charred oak, vanilla, heavily roasted malts, burnt caramel, espresso, faint coconut, marshmallow, vague dark fruits and a nice blanket of booze over it all. Despite the name, this seems like a different stout than the base beer. Significantly sweeter with almost none of the anise that I recall being so prevalent. An outstanding blend of imperial stout and barrel character that goes down with an ease that belies it's near-13% abv.

Sludgy, heavy, creamy feel with an interesting, lethargic seeming carbonation. That may not read as a compliment but the mouthfeel is almost perfect for an imperial stout. Bittersweet dark fudge, bourbon and sweet barrel linger in the finish.

I remember thinking Narwhal had some real potential when I first tried it two years ago and that potential is fully realized in this barrel aged version. The barrel smooths out the flavors, adds a wonderfully sweet complexity and seems to have thickened it beautifully. This beer came out of left field and surpassed my expectations, which is a rare occurrence these days. Yes this is a tad pricey but Barrel Aged Narwhal is a benchmark example of what a barrel aged imperial stout can be and possibly the best beer I've had from the craft veterans at Sierra Nevada. Seriously- try this if you can!

Photo of ajz132
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a Jester King teku glass. ~12 oz poured initially. Date was smudged on the bottle and not legible.

A - This beer is bllllllacckkkkk - as dark as the depths of the water that its mastadonic namesake dives to many times a day. 2 fingers of frothy, mocha-colored head quickly receded to one and none after the beer sat for just a few seconds. Lacing consists of many small bubbles that quickly disappear.

N - The aroma on this beer is delightful and complex - that of a high end dessert establishment. The bourbon notes are the first thing that your nose grabs, but notes of dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and espresso are present as well.

T - When the beer is still cold (~50 F), the bourbon flavors are the first thing that you get and remain throughout the sipping of the beer, with some trailing coffee flavors. As the beer warms up, there are pronounced flavors of chocolate when the beer first hits the tongue, melding well with the bourbon flavors you pick up in the middle, and finishing with lingering espresso. The taste is quite good, but the wonderful sweetness that I look for in GREAT BA stouts is just not there.

M - For being a 12.9% monster, the mouthfeel on this beer is not as huge as it could be. While it is obviously no session beer, it is quite drinkable. It does, however, drink a little bit "hot" even when it has warmed up. I don't know if it has to do with the barrels that were used or just what, but the booziness is more pronounced than in the "elite" BA stouts.

O - This beer is no question a GREAT one. I certainly wouldn't let it sit on a table and not drink it, regardless of circumstances. That being said - it is not in the same class as the other world-class BA stouts that we all love, even though it has a similar price tag.

Photo of cosmicevan
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

enjoyed side by side with a 2014 narwhal from sierra nevada 30th anni globe snifter.

a - brew pours a rich shiny silky black. great shine nice frothy offwhite head. great lace, esp for a BA brew. looks like the base, but the BA has bigger lace.

s - nose is exactly ad advertised...a big woody bourbon glazing over the nice roasted chocolate notes of the base.

t/m/o - really well balanced BA stout. has all the robust chocolate roast and chewy body of the original with a really nice glaze of woody bourbon. the barrel takes some of the extremeness of the roast of the base and sits it in the back seat. an improvement to an already tasty beer. the barrel aging really takes it to another level. very good, easy drinking and worth checking out.

Photo of Nobcefus
3.45/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I would have enjoyed stronger bourbon notes. I also don't like using the word "notes".

Photo of braugon
3.75/5  rDev -14%

Photo of SanFranJake
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of SkiBum22
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of sabitu
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of supa0525
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of bulldogg915
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

One of the best stouts I've ever had.
Aroma of bourbon, chocolate, and dark fruit.
Taste improved on the aroma.

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Todd
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of JakerLou
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of mctizzz
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of aquazr1
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of JC333
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of aboyd87
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of gibgink
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyable BA stout from Sierra Nevada. Takes Narwhal up a notch. Picked up the bourbon, but not in excess. Tasted some chocolate notes, and roasted flavors as well. Very well done. Would recommend.

Photo of Ngcba415
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of dogfishandi
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

Photo of MattyG85
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a corked 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of tan head that quickly fades away.

Smell: A rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt forward aroma with big hints of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Big barrel presence with boozy hints of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with hints of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee beans, biscuit, burnt toast, grains, smoke, and yeast. Sweet hints of molasses. Subtle dark fruit hints of cherry and raisin. Hops are pretty light. A very good rich aroma.

Taste: Like the smell indicates, a rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt and barrel driven taste with good notes of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Good upfront barrel presence with notes of bourbon whiskey, sweet vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with rich notes of dark chocolate, bakers cocoa, coffee, burnt toast, biscuit, grains, smoke, and yeast. Sweet notes of burnt molasses. Dark fruit undertones with notes of cherry, raisin, and prune. A really good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, and slightly syrupy. Some booze is felt as expected but it’s not really hot.

Overall: A really good barrel aged version of an already good Stout. Good bourbon presence that adds some nice vanilla flavors without overwhelming the dark roast notes.

Photo of buyyourfreedom
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of Cynic-ale
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 768 ratings.